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December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Damascus’

Things to come

Monday, June 10th, 2013

It’s 2018. Israel is still beleaguered, but not by its traditional foes.

In a short, bloody war in 2015, Israel crushed Hezbollah. Shortly thereafter, it launched a series of strikes against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure, using new non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NNEMP) technology against above-ground installations, plus ultra-precise multiple-strike penetrating bombs to open the underground bunkers. Without Hizballah and without an answer to NNEMP weapons, Iran was forced to defer its nuclear ambitions indefinitely.

Syria’s civil war still sputters and flares, with Assad’s Russian-supported forces in control of the coastal areas and Damascus, while various rebel groups hold the rest. An independent Kurdistan has been declared (although it hasn’t been recognized by the UN), including parts of Iraq and Syria.

Insurrections also continue with various levels of violence in Iraq, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, and other states. Jordan, which received a massive amount of military aid from Israel, is still under control of the Hashemite king, although there are insurgents operating there too.

With the destruction of Hizbollah and the partial neutralization of Iran, organized terrorism worldwide has declined. But there are still multiple radical Islamist organizations that are challenging their perceived enemies wherever they can.

After the Egyptian economy disintegrated in 2014-15, the Islamist regime was overthrown by the military. Some food aid was received from the US, but nowhere near enough to prevent food riots, widespread malnutrition and some actual starvation. Israel is providing the military government with large amounts of water (from gas-powered desalinization plants) to irrigate parts of the Sinai. Partly in return (and partly to protect its own existence) Egypt has been cooperating with Israel in keeping weapons away from Hamas and fighting radical Islamists in the Sinai.

Although greatly weakened during the years of AKP dominance, the Turkish military has reasserted itself and with much popular support has reined in the excesses of Erdoğan’s regime. Many officers that were imprisoned (with or without trials) have been rehabilitated, and the army has made it clear that it will not stand for further erosion of secular institutions. Relations with Israel have also improved, as the pragmatic officers overrode the AKP’s ideological rigidity.

Meanwhile, Israel’s economy is continuing to do well. Its huge natural gas reserves have enabled it to produce large amounts of electricity at very low cost, which it uses in part to desalinate sea water. For the first time in history, Israel has enough water! Natural gas is also exported to Turkey and Eastern Europe, in accordance with an agreement with Russia to maintain prices.

The PLO still exists and still rules most of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. It still receives subsidies from Europe and the US, and still tries to engage in ‘popular resistance‘ (murder by means of weapons other than guns and explosives) when possible.

Hamas, cut off from aid from Hizballah and the Muslim Brotherhood, now exists primarily on UN aid, a massive expansion of UNRWA.

So where does the threat that I mentioned above come from?

In two words, Western Europe.

The UK has its first Muslim Prime Minister, elected after the escalating riots of 2014-5. Considered by all a ‘moderate’, he managed to quiet the uprisings by promising to establish shari’a courts with authority over Muslim towns and enclaves throughout the country (very few non-Muslims remain in those areas). British Jews have taken a very low profile since the riots, during which many were targeted by the rampaging mobs. Many of those whose Zionist sympathies were known fled to Australia or Canada, and some went to Israel. Although the PM publicly says that he supports the continued existence of Israel, he favors a right of return for all Arab ‘refugees’ — there are now 10 million claiming refugee status — release of all Arab prisoners, and “an end to apartheid.”

The rest of the EU states are more or less the same, although they do not yet have Muslim heads of state. The French Jewish community has almost entirely left, most going to Israel. Antisemitic acts by Muslims — but also by non-Muslims who blame Israel and Jews for the violence of Muslims and for economic problems — have multiplied. Jews in Holland, the Scandinavian countries, etc. are also fleeing because they feel they cannot depend on their governments to protect them from pervasive Jew-hatred.

Muslim demands have a history of being quickly accommodated, since if they are not the result is often violent. Most such demands relate to local autonomy, shari’a courts in Muslim areas, compliance with Muslim sensibilities about food, animals, alcohol, ‘blasphemy’ and ‘immorality’ in media, school curricula, etc.

But as happened in 2013 with the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, we see more and more violent acts ‘explained’ in terms of foreign policy. The EU has long since removed any military presence from Afghanistan (as did the US; Afghanistan is today ruled by the Taliban); but now demands center on policy toward Israel.

Antisemitism in Europe is taken for granted, even in countries where there are few Jews (most of them, now). In Germany, for example, politicians can safely say that while the Holocaust was a great evil, it is possible to understand how Jewish behavior, if it did not cause it, at least created the conditions that made it possible. Likewise, there is little sympathy for Israel, which is seen as an instigator of violence, not its victim.

As the threats from Israel’s neighbors recede, we find the danger from nuclear-armed, unstable Europe increasing.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Assad’s Army Ready to Take Back Aleppo

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Syria’s army is preparing to launch an assault on Aleppo, aimed at driving rebels out of the northern city and surrounding province, the Daily Star of Lebanon reports.

Preparations for the new battle come five days after the Syrian army and its ally Hezbollah—which is an Iranian brigade based in Lebanon—retook Qusair in center-west Syria, a year after the bulk of that region had fallen into rebel hands.

“It is likely the battle for Aleppo will start in the coming hours or days, and its aim is to reclaim the towns and villages [under rebel control] in the province,” a source in the Syrian security apparatus told AFP.

“The Syrian Arab army is ready to carry out its mission in this province,” the source said.

The pro-Assad daily Al-Watan reported on Sunday that the government army had “started to deploy at a large scale in Aleppo province, in preparation for a battle that will be fought in the city and its outskirts.”

The rebels took Alepo in July, 2012, and since then this major industrial center had been bombarded regularly by Army forces.

Al-Watan also said “the Syrian army will take advantage of its experience in Qusair and Eastern Ghouta [near Damascus] to advance in the [central] province of Hama and Homs” nearby.

“The consequences of the battle for Qusair will … map out the contours of Syria’s political future,” the daily added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday that the regime was deploying “thousands of soldiers” near Aleppo, among other things to try and cut off the rebels’ weapons supply routes from Turkey.

Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media channel, reported that the army’s “Northern Storm” operation had started Sunday morning, with the goal of “regaining Aleppo and its countryside.”

Battles raged on Sunday near Al-Nubul and Zahra, two rural Shiite enclaves outside Aleppo, in Syria’s north.

“The aim is to use the two villages as forward bases to make advances in Aleppo and its countryside,” said Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh, a rebel commander who used to be a senior officer in Assad’ military.

“The regime considers that it has received a shot in the arm after the Qusair battle, but they will find that it will not be easy to advance in Aleppo,” al-Sheikh told The Daily Star.

Another rebel commander, from the Free Syria Brigade, using the name Salah, told The Daily Star there had been increased air traffic from the direction of Al-Nubul and Zahra for the last two days.

“We are forming groups to prepare but we lack ammunition,” he said in a phone conversation.

Assad: ‘Israeli Aggression’ Fuels Demand that Syria Fight Israel

Friday, May 31st, 2013

In a televised interview on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station Thursday, May 30, Syrian President Bashar al Assad warned Israel that he is feeling pressure to open a military front against Israel.

Assad said there was “popular pressure” in his country to strike at Israel because of “repeated Israeli aggression.”

Israel has struck Syria three times over the past several months in order to stop the traffic of suspected biological and other sophisticated weapons which flow from Iran through Syria.  The eager recipients-to-be of those weapons is Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim terrorist entity closely aligned with Iran, which is headquartered in Southern Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border.

In the latest of the alleged Israeli attacks against Syria on Sunday May 5, an explosion rocked a military research facility outside the Syrian capital of Damascus.  “Military research facility” is a frequently used euphemism for chemical weapons factory.

Syrian officials called the early May attack a “declaration of War against Syria by Israel,” and warned of grave retaliation, but no specifics were given.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been brutally caustic in his criticism of Syria for failing to respond to Israel’s attacks. Erdoğan ridiculed the embattled Syrian president for being a “mute devil” for carrying out attacks on his own people but failing to stand up to Israel for its “aggression” against Israel and because Israel “occupies Syrian territory.”

Erdoğan was referring to the Golan Heights, a strategic location in Israel’s far northeastern border which Arab and Muslim nations and their sympathizers routinely refer to as “occupied Syrian territory.”  The Golan Heights were acquired by Israel in a defensive war, one which Syria waged against the Jewish State in 1967. Prior to Israel’s acquisition of the Golan Heights, the Syrians high up in the hills routinely shot at Israeli civilians who were frequently forced to sleep in bomb shelters.  The topography of the land rendered Syrians shooting at Israelis the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

THE GOLAN HEIGHTS: HOW IS IT ISRAEL’S, LET US COUNT THE WAYS

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War Syria again attacked Israel and briefly invaded the Golan Heights, but were turned back in less than a day.  Following this defeat, Syria signed a “Disengagement Agreement” ceding the territory to Israel.  Eight years later, Israel formally annexed the territory.

In other words, Israel acquired the Golan Heights in a defensive war in 1967, it reacquired it in another defensive war in 1973, Syria ceded control of the territory in 1973 and in 1981 Israel formally announced its sovereignty over this strategic highpoint.  And yet the anti-Israel nations and the media and other enablers still refer to this area as territory illegally occupied by Israel.  That should be a lesson to those who believe, because they keep hearing it, that Israel is an evil occupying force:  facts have nothing to do with the claim.

RUSSIAN S300S

There was extensive speculation about whether or not Syria received from Russia a delivery of long-range S300 missiles in recent days.  Although in the text of Assad’s speech, distributed prior to his televised al-Manar interview, Assad stated that Syria had received the first shipment of those weapons, during the actual interview Assad did not use those words, and instead his language was very general.

The S300 anti-aircraft missiles have been described by Israel as a “game changer.” According to Israeli officials, there has thus far been no delivery to Syria of these weapons.  There is currently an EU arms embargo on Syria.

“The S300 would be the pinnacle of Russian-supplied arms for Syria,” Colonel Zvika Haimovich, a senior Israeli air force officer, told Reuters in an interview. “Though it would impinge on our operations, we are capable of overcoming it.”

Israeli government minister Silvan Shalom told public radio: “Syria has had strategic weapons for years, but the problem arises when these arms fall into other hands and could be used against us. In that case, we would have to act.”

Extreme Readiness Along Northern Border

Monday, May 6th, 2013

The IAF attacks on missiles and other weapons caches in Damascus have led yesterday to a particularly tense day up north, perhaps the most tense since the Second Lebanon War. The Air Force ordered the closure of Israel’s northern airspace until Thursday. This despite unofficial military evaluations that there will be no serious retaliation on the part of Syria or Hezbollah, who are both too busy fighting the Sunni rebels to care for a second, deadly front against Israel.

Israel’s concern is primarily Hezbollah, the more volatile member of the northern, unholy alliance, and the intended recipient of those demolished Fateh-110 long-range missiles. So the level of readiness was increased for the entire north, which included an IDF request that residents of the Western Galilee to avoid fireworks and loud music.

Talk about nervous trigger fingers.

The Northern Command, which had been planning a major exercise of civilian defense response to a Syrian rocket attack—decided to shelve it for the time being. As it is, folks started to form lines to get their gas masks and the rest of the official defense kit.

According to Maariv, the Golan Heights residents have been less nervous after the two successive IAF attacks on Syria. Possibly because the Syrian border has been the quietest for the past 40 years. But things in the Middle east have a tendency to change rapidly, especially with news of Al Qaeda and other fanatics moving south as part of their encounters with the Syrian army.

Meanwhile, the Home Front Command’s Information Center has announced the inauguration of a new call-routing system enabling speakers of foreign languages to talk to a representative of the Home Front Command and a translator on the phone. Should the IDF be unable to provide a translation to a particular language in real time, the operators will record the caller’s phone number and call back with a translator on the line.

“Ultimately, what’s important is that each of the information platforms be available to civilians, who will know that there is an address for every question,” Col. Sigal Tidhar, Head of the Home Front Command’s Population Department, told the IDF Website. “The center is available 24/7, and now we have also successfully addressed [foreign] languages through a translation company that gives us this service. Right now, the response is provided immediately, and even during Operation Pillar of Defense we reinforced the stations so there would be no waiting time.”

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 18 percent of Israelis speak Arabic as their mother tongue, 15 percent Russian, followed by Amharic, English, French, German, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Yiddish.

Chemical Weapons Expert: Russia Is Key to Avoid War with Syria

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Russia is the only key to end the bloodshed in Syria and to neutralize the chemical weapons threat without a foreign military intervention, according to a former Israeli Dense Ministry chemist who is considered perhaps the country’s best expert on chemical weapons in Syria.

It is totally inconceivable to bomb the chemical and biological weapons because an attack could cause exactly the horrid result that everyone outside of Syria wants to prevent – a large scale humanitarian disaster, retired Lt. Col Dr. Dany Shoham told The Jewish Press Sunday. He is a former macro-biologist and chemist for the Defense Ministry and specialized in chemical and biological warfare in the Middle East.

There are two ways to make sure their chemical and biological weapons will not be used – either by foreign military intervention, which would entail getting rid of Assad and replacing him temporarily with a non-Syrian; or ending the bloody civil war by diplomacy, an approach that is virtually impossible without Russia’s cooperation, he said.

There is no doubt that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and it is “99 percent certain” that it is Assad and not the rebels who have committed a war crime by unleashing them, in violation of the Geneva Convention and all rules of war, Dr. Shoham stated. “In my opinion, there is only the slightest chance that rebels have used chemical weapons, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do so,” said the former macro-biologist for the Defense Ministry.

Syria is manufacturing the chemical and biological weapons within Syria, but Russia may be assisting Syria, he added.

As for the military option, he pointed out that the United States is “planning and practicing for an operation” in Jordan, using its own officers and soldiers as well as Jordanians.

“Whoever wants to prevent danger ideally should replace Syrian guards,” he said. Dr. Shoham  did not say what would happen next, but it is clear that any foreign invader would be stuck with local resentment far worse than what the United States faced in Iraq after its invasion. A foreign takeover also would likely plant the seeds for an eventual radical Muslim regime that could make the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood look like bleeding heart liberals.

However, the invading force at least would be able to confiscate the chemical and biologic weapons, according to Dr. Shoham. “We know where most, but not all, of them can be found,” he said.

The diplomatic option so far has not taken hold for the simple reason that without Russia, it can’t happen.

“The solution has to come from Russia. Russia has to force Syria diplomatically,” he said, and “America knows it.”

How and when they might happen is conjecture, but Dr. Shoham pointed out that President Barack Obama will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in five weeks.

The two leaders spoke by phone last week, and the White House stated, “President Obama and President Putin reviewed the situation in Syria, with President Obama underscoring concern over Syrian chemical weapons,” and they agreed to “stay in close consultation” by instructing their foreign ministers to continue discussions on Syria.

President Obama and Putin are due to meet in June during the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet in Northern Ireland.

Moscow is invested up to its neck in the Syria military arsenal, and if it does not want to see it boomerang on itself by letting it fall in the wrong hands, Putin will have the opportunity to play the role as world leader and twist Assad’s arm – if it is not too late.

Syrian Warns and Warns and Warns It Will Retaliate

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

A Syrian official warned Israel on Sunday that the bombing of its “military research facility” [Read: missiles from Iran] is a “declaration of war,” and Damascus will retaliate whenever it wants.

The bombing of the missiles, which were destined for Hezbollah as a way station before their final explosive stop deep inside Israel, “opens the door to all possibilities,” said Syrian Information Minister Amran a-Zoabi.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad told CNN the attack is is an act of war and an outcome of Israel’s allegedly working with terrorists in Syria.

Israel is taking all precautions, such deploying the Iron Dome anti-missile system in the north.

But before everyone in Israel runs for the bomb shelters, it is worthwhile remembering that Israel in 2007 staged an aerial attack on a nuclear reactor that was under construction with the help of North Korean scientists.

Syria did not react.

Four months ago, Israel bombed a convoy of missiles on its way from Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, said Damascus “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.” He warned that Syria will retaliate in the way it chooses and when it chooses.

It sill is choosing.

Israel struck again early Friday morning, bombing Fateh-110 missiles that had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus.

Syria did not react.

And again on Sunday morning Israel bombed again.

This time, Syria retaliated by sending a complaint to the United Nations.

Assad has been described by Pulitzer Prize winner Joel Brinkley as “the most dangerous man in the world,” a far more accurate description than that of then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who termed him a “reformer” two months after the rebellion began in the form of peaceful demonstrations.

Given his position of “kill or be killed,” it would not be wise to pooh-pooh the possibility of his going totally berserk and attacking Israel.

And given Israel’s strikes to keep Hezbollah from accessing “game-changer” long-range missiles aimed south of the border, Assad would be wise to run for a very deeply buried bomb shelter if he “retaliates.”

Israel Attacks Again, Explosions Shake Damascus (Video)

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Syrian state television said Israeli rockets had struck a military research center on the outskirts of the capital city.  Other sources say Israel hit Iranian Fateh-110 surface to surface missiles on route to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s Manar television station reported, citing security sources in Damascus, that an Israeli warplane was shot down by Syrian air-defense units during the raid. There was no independent confirmation of the claim and Israel did not comment on the raid reports.

In response to the Syrian clain, the Free Syria Media  Hub (sarcastically?) claimed on Twitter, “#sana tv crew caught painting an old mig fighter tail with israeli airforce markings near #damascus”.   Sana is the Syrian government controlled TV station.

The blasts took place two days after the IAF had carried out an air strike targeting a cache of  missiles in Syria intended for delivery to the Hezbollah in Lebanon. The “research center” hit Sunday morning was also targeted by Israel in January.

“Initial information indicates that the explosions at the scientific research center in Jamraya near Damascus were caused by Israeli missiles,” the official SANA news agency reported. It offered no further details.

Damascus residents reported hearing massive blasts at 1:50 AM Sunday.

“There was a large explosion. We first felt shakes like an earthquake and 30 seconds later heard gunfire,” one resident told The Daily Star by telephone from the Syrian capital.

“There was an electricity cut then a large boom. The door of my balcony opened from the after effect,” another resident said, adding that warplanes could be heard overhead.

Video footage uploaded by activists shows a huge ball of fire rising into the night sky.

“The new Israeli attack is an attempt to raise the morale of the terrorist groups which have been reeling from strikes by our noble army,” Syrian television said, referring to recent offensives by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against rebels.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials on Sunday’s explosions. “We don’t respond to this kind of report,” an Israeli military spokeswoman told Reuters.

The U.S. State Department also had no immediate comment.



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